It was in the moment we drunkenly crossed the road to pet a
total stranger’s dog when I knew this Thanksgiving would be a doozy. Ben, Emily, and I were waiting for the parade
to roll, and we needed something to occupy our time. We had already consumed all of the travel
champagne (in this case defined as the large tumblers of mimosa that we carried
in car cupholders), so it seemed entirely appropriate to pepper a random with
questions about his Great Dane (maybe it was a Boxer mix… champagne,
right). It was a beautiful specimen of
definitely not small) dog at any rate.
The booze had put Emily in a good mood, and that was the whole
point. We wanted the first Thanksgiving
with Ben’s sisters to be special. Maybe
we hedged our bet with 5 bottles of Korbel Brut, but we couldn’t just depend on
our sparkling personalities to make the day memorable. For years, Ben and I had tried to convince
the girls to move home. We’d tell our
tales of New Orleans debauchery and Fred’s Debauchery and Banana debauchery,
and through all of that was an implicit promise. If they moved home, their lives would be more
joyous, more rich, and apparently way more debaucherous. We would see to that. So we needed to deliver solid ratings in this
first family get together.
Related Tangent: I think there are a few keys to make a
gathering enjoyable. First, you have to genuinely like the company
of at least two people in attendance. If you only enjoy one person,
you’re probably going to smother her/him while also feeling a bit stifled with
your lack of options. If you have more than two, then mazel
tov! Second, you need the framework of an agenda, but not a
regimented agenda. You should plan on having dinner and watching a
television show (sounds familiar, huh) but should not plan on dinner at 6:45 followed by four episodes of Girls. Because what happens when
the sauce burns and you and your friends are on your fifth glass of boxed wine
when talk turns to Orange is the New Black? Your schedule gets
shot to hell, that’s what. The point is that you provide a framework
for the gathering to weave itself through and around, and then let cocktails
and conversation take it where it wants to go. Third, and I can’t
stress this one enough, encourage cocktailing at any shindig. I once
attended a baby shower that had two types of sangria for refreshment, and it
was a rousing success. If you’re about to be a parent, you really
need to schedule your wild oat sowing pronto.
Usually, we avoid small town parades unless we are riding on
a hay covered trailer with a woman dressed like Elvis. However, we made an exception when April and
Morgan agreed to ride on a local restaurant’s float. While we were waiting for the line of farm
vehicles, antique cars, and duallys to pass us by, we traded Thanksgiving
memories and laughed about nonsense.
Then we heard music, and the dancing began. Dancing the Dougie with my sister-in-law
isn’t something that I’m particularly proud of, but it definitely added some
magic to the day. And though I’m certain
we scandalized the live nativity float with our pelvic thrusts, we created some
hazy, champagne colored memories too.
Best of all, after we picked up all of the cheap candy and beads around
the car, Ben drove Myrtle (his new Mazda Tribute) into the procession, and we
followed it all the way to the end of the parade. Naturally, we threw the candy and plastic
necklaces to those along the route like the other legit floats. It was magical.
After we picked up April and Morgan, we headed back to
Emily’s place for more champagne and dinner.
The parade had put us all in a good mood, and family stories were being
swapped while more mimosas were being poured.
Old school country music was playing in the background, and we danced in
the living room from time to time. Ben’s
Pentecostal Aunt Lois joined us along with one of April’s Fort Polk
friends. We were a motley crew, and the
conversations ranged from Momma Gooby hurling shoes and ashtrays at the Manuel
kids when they wouldn’t sleep to military deployments in Iraq. Eventually, the champagne ran out and the
dancing ceased and the conversations tapered.
And we had done it. We delivered
the kind of good time that we had promised to the sisters all of those years.
Contributed by Casey After a thirteen-year love affair with the Dark Mother, the time has come, friends, to lay down the smokes. Several years ago, I read a book called The Easy Way To Stop Smoking by Alan Carr. Obviously, it isn't a magic book;
I continued to smoke for several years after the read. I did, however, hang onto some nuggets. Nugget 1: When you're ready to quit, pick a date and tell people. Done and done. I chose July 8 (today) because it's the Monday after a holiday weekend, affording the occasion to smoke it up before the big divorce. Nugget 2: The day before your quit-day, smoke as many cigarettes as you possibly can. And done again. A few folks recommended to me to reduce the amount you smoke each day until you're down to none. In my experience, that just makes me miserable. Also, if you're still smoking (even just a few a day) when something traumatic or stressful goes down, you're far more likely to smoke-it-up, thus undoing all your whittlin' efforts. The idea behind over-smoking is to make yourself so sick, that the following day, you'll have a kind of smoker's hangover, making it that much easier to get through the first day. Yesterday, I smoked eighteen cigarettes in fourteen hours. I'm a little disappointed in myself. I feel like I should have been able to kill an entire pack, but by midnight, there was no way I could suck another one down. And yes, my throat totally kills today, so mission accomplished, yes? Okay, so only two nuggets.
An hour or so ago, the room got a little spinny so I took three drags of an electronic cigarette, which only made me more spinny and throat-sore. Back in the purse it went.
I'm also fasting. People seem surprised that I would want to add additional torment to this process. When you fast, your body reacts to the lack of food in a way similar to nicotine withdrawal, only it's a more intense feeling. So while the head swims from lack on nicotine, the desire for food is greater and you can't tell which deprivation is creating the more urgent annoyance. Another good reason to fast: smoker's like to partake after any meal. Skip the meal and the trigger is avoided. When I decide that the fast is over (tonight or tomorrow) and I finally eat, I'll be past the initial hurdle and the meal-trigger won't have quite as much influence over me. Another fasting side-effect: I'm drinking lots of water. Ergo, I'm peeing quite often. I'm so distracted by my many trips to the potty that I don't even notice that I haven't had a cigarette break. All I really need is an excuse to get up from my desk, which a full bladder provides. I'll do my best to update our eager readers with details of my success or failure. Edge of your seat, I'm sure.
Hypothetically, let’s say that your father is arrested… for
a non-violent crime of course. He’s no
Scarface. No, he’s arrested for some DUI
related offense; like maybe his 4th DUI in 5 years (and you are
definitely not gonna include those
other 8- 10 times in years past because who’s counting). You’re not surprised that he’s behind bars
because frankly the writing has been on the wall for years that this outcome
was inevitable. And just for argument’s
sake, let’s say that his incarceration has been a relief to you. Sure you love him, that’s obviously not in
question, but you have not had to deal with the day-to-day hassle of having him
in your life. The calls, the unwanted
visits, the unreasonable requests for favors.
The way he makes you feel sorry for him even when he is the sole person
responsible for the predicaments in which he constantly finds himself. And frankly, he’s quite literally out of your
hair. I forgot to tell you that you
happen to reside within a hundred yards or so of his domicile, which is his
parent’s house naturally. And if you
would put yourself into this fictitious scenario, imagine that you’ve
corresponded with your dad by letter a few times and seen him face to face just
once in the last ten months. That visit
came after his second stroke in two months, and you were understandably
concerned that he was about to die. It’s
not hard to imagine that death could come for a lifelong addict. But imagine the relief you’d feel when you
see him with your own eyes (behind a plexiglass construction cuz television
does get that part right); you get confirmation that he’s still hanging in
there. And he is genuinely happy to see
your face. That’s nice, right?
Still with me? Okay,
now onto your hypothetical problem.
Father’s Day is upon you, and you want to get him a card. Something that honors him as the person who
donated half of your dna but that doesn’t extol his virtues as a parent. This is a problem. I’m not sure why with such a sizeable swath
of the population being rounded up for jail time rehab that Hallmark hasn’t
come out with a Daddy’s-In-Jail-But-I-Love-His-Jailbird-Ass holiday card. It could be dubbed the Felony Father line and
include a Get Out of Jail Free card to lighten the mood. You can surely see the necessity of laughter
for those serving time. Now dispense
with the hypotheticals for a second, try to recall the messages you read while
shopping for a FD card this year, and…. That’s
just it. And…. I mean it’s not like you can buy the card
that mentions all of the great things your dad has done for you. Remember the time you played catch together? Nope, you don’t because summer was his peak
drinking season. Remember all the
camping trips you took together? Well
you do, but it reminds you of the time he drunkenly fell through the tent and
scared the hell out of you and your sister.
Forgot to mention your hypothetical little sister; sorry ‘bout
that. What about all of the financial
help he gave you through the years?
That’s funny when you recall sleeping on your wallet so he wouldn’t
steal your money again. And…
And you still love him.
Not hypothetically. You really
do. He’s a mess; he’s always been a
mess; he will likely always be a mess. So
you get the card with the fewest words.
It says something simple like To My Very Special Dad. And he is special. You can kinda remember him teaching you how
to sketch robots. Or that time he
listened to The Marshall Tucker Band with you while telling you about the best back
roads to ride around. And how he would
take you swimming and try to convince you to jump out of the tree even though
you were scared. And when you did it, he
was so proud. And his sense of humor and
his laughter. And...
Maybe I’m just lazy, but I don’t want to listen to new music
to find my Summer Jam. That’s probably the
first sign that I’m headed towards bitter middle age. The second sign will be when my poly-blend
trousers are tucked safely beneath my armpits.
However, I’m not immune to the occasional trendy hook that the preteen
set gravitates towards. Case in point, Blurred
Lines by Robin Thicke, T.I., and Pharrell (who also has his mitts in
Daft Punk’s Get Lucky). I’m pretty
sure that it’s the Marvin Gaye Got to Give It Up sample that pulls
me in, but this tune is clearly a front runner for Summer Jam 2013. It has sexy crooning, the aforementioned
jacked Marvin Gaye beat, and exuberant shouting. Just don’t watch the video or this delicate
soufflé collapses. It wants to be George
Michael’s Freedom 90, but the models prance aimlessly while the singers
pose unconvincingly. And without the
gravitas of a Christy Turlington or a Cindy Crawford or a Ms. Naomi Campbell
(Ms. cuz I’m nasty) the effect is comical not sexy. I wouldn’t say that the video is the biggest
disaster since Amanda Bynes **toke** dropped her “vase”, but it definitely
lacks David Fincher’s critical eye for composition and narrative.
Back to Robin Thicke for a moment. If you really want a deviated septum **wink**
kind of season, you should get into Cocaine. After all, mountains of nose candy and
handcuffs in back alleys go together like lemonade and front porch rockers. It’s the very essence of summer.
If that’s not your
scene though, I would like to offer an alternative. This next candidate is very dear to me. It has the vibe of a stoner song, the beat of
a hip hop jam, and the lyrics of a true innovator. Missy Elliott’s Hit Em Wit Da Hee has
real potential as my Summer Anthem.
That’s right, circa 1997 ya’ll! I
told you I’m lazy. But listen to this
one. I mean, this features Lil’ Kim,
after Hard Core but before the
crazy facial reconstruction. Missy is
not speaking the Queen’s English; she’s barely speaking intelligible
words. Wait, is that onomatopoeia I hear?
Why, yes it is! This is the
Summer Jam your English teacher could support.